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Parent-approved alternatives to teen piercings, tattoos and hair dyes

Melissa Chapman and her brood of three live in the urban concrete jungle of NYC. She writes Kids in the City Kids in the City a weekly column and blog for the Staten Island Advance, contributes to SheKnows, Time Out NY Kids Time Out N...

Taming your teen rebel

Recently your tween has been dropping not so subtle hints abut her plans to get inked on her 16th birthday. You’ve also heard her not so secretly plotting with her friends to dye their hair pink and get matching tongue piercings. As an adult, and a mother who has never considered defacing their body in such a permanent way, you’re literally beside yourself with anguish. And while you’d love to thwart her plans with statements like, “You’ll get a tattoo over my dead body,” you know those threats can only take you so far. So what’s a mom to do?

Alternatives to bright hair dye

Colored hair extensions

If you aren't ready for your teen to dye his or her hair with a permanent hair dye, Rittberg suggests using a temporary spray-in hair color like Jerome Russell B-wild hair spray (sold at Walgreens.com) – which washes out instantly. Also, depending on your budget, you can look into hair-extensions, hair clips and wigs as great alternatives to the permanent nature of hair dye.

Another great place for temporary finds for your teen is at your local costume or Halloween store, such as Ricky's. Chain drug stores like also sell many of the temporary hair color solutions such as hair clips and spray-and-wash hair color.

Alternatives to tattoos

If your teen wants a tattoo, recommend temporary tattoo solutions, such as fake tattoos, sun tattoos, henna tattoos or even tattoo sleeves/clothing. The newest trend in body art is a Jagua tattoo. Jagua is a fruit that grows in the Amazon whose juice stains the skin blue/black; it looks just like a real tattoo, only it fades after two weeks. A Jagua tattoo kit comes with easy-to-use stencil transfers that are applied like henna and are all natural and safe.

"Even if a temporary tattoo doesn't thrill you, just think: that temporary tattoo, so long as it does not contain an obscene or socially unacceptable message, won't likely adversely affect your teen's academic, work or social future," says Ms. Rittberg.

Get more tattoo safety tips for teens here.

Alternatives to piercings

If your teen wants a body piercing, try investing in non-piercing jewelry such as magnetic body jewelry or clip-on rings, which can help your teen achieve the same pierced look. Try a product like b'Ink'd, temporary earrings made of vegetable-based inks and adhesives, that do not require magnets, piercings, stickers or glue.

piercing salon cleanliness

If your teen is still hell-bent on getting a piercing, Burningham suggests researching some reputable piercing salons and going with your teen to check them out.

"By staying a part of the process, you can keep an eye on things and also be a part of the decision making process, "says Ms. Burningham."There's a great story in my book about a teenager who pierced her own belly button. It got infected and years later and she still has a terrible scar. That is never cute so talk to your teen about both sides; sure it might be cute now, and the minuses, what if you don't want it in a year and have a permanent scar."

Get more teen piercing safety pointers here.

Keep the lines of communication open

Burningham says that style and looks are the easiest way for a teen to define herself. Helping her develop a new skill, whether it's the piano, soccer or finding good friends, can take away the need to appear different on a surface level.

"When in doubt, talk to your teenager. If you're worried about something, like her getting a tattoo, tell her why and give her a chance to explain things," says Ms. Burningham. "While it might not always be a perfect conversation, an actual dialogue is a key to helping your teenagers become happy, well-adjusted adults. Even if that means an adult who has a tattoo."

Related video

Tattoos and My Teenager

All their friends are getting them and your child wants to be "cool", too. Now what? Watch this video that discusses what you can do if your child is asking for permission to have a tattoo.

More tips on parenting teens:

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